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Help on Pricing Matters?

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  • Jessica
    Hi. I ve been asked by various girls to make them bloomers. However, I am at a loss as to what to charge for them. I ve seen them being sold for anywhere
    Message 1 of 7 , May 13, 2008
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      Hi. I've been asked by various girls to make them bloomers. However,
      I am at a loss as to what to charge for them. I've seen them being sold
      for anywhere between $36 to $90, depending on style and fabric, though
      many were just a cotton muslin or print. That low price still seems a
      bit much though. Any input would be welcome. The girls who are
      requesting the bloomers are in high school, as am I, so that would also
      affect my pricing.
      Thanks!
      ~Jessica
    • Naresha
      Hi Jessica, Whilst I ve never had to price a garment before, there s a really general ideas that you could use for a starting point. Firstly, you HAVE TO cover
      Message 2 of 7 , May 14, 2008
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        Hi Jessica,
        Whilst I've never had to price a garment before, there's a really general ideas that you could use for a starting point.

        Firstly, you HAVE TO cover your costs - everything from fabric and patterns to needles, thread elastic etc. Don't forget to include all the little bits and pieces like thread and buttons even if you've got them lying around at home - you'll have to buy replacement supplies at some point in time and you don't want to be spending all your own money on things that aren't for you!

        Secondly, and this is the harder bit, add something for your own time and effort. Remember that it costs you money to get to and from the fabric store and to measure each girl - it all takes time out of your day when you could be doing things for yourself to make these bloomers. Remember that each pair will cost a different amount to make depending on how much fabric you need which will depend on the size you're making and the fabric etc.

        The second part is really where you can make alterations to the price - unless you're making a gift for someone's birthday because you want to, you can't afford to not cover your costs. Don't be afraid to tell the girls upfront that you can't take your price any lower than XYZ. If you don't cover your costs, then the money comes out of your own pocket and that's not the way to do it. I know high school generally means less money to spend, but someone has to pay for the bloomers and it's better that the people who want them are the ones to pay for them!

        There's a couple of ways you could go about it... You can either charge each girl a different amount based on their individual requests (eg, size 8 satin as opposed to size 18 cotton) and then either add a fixed amount (e.g. $10) or a percentage of costs (e.g. 10%) on top for yourself to get to a final amount. Alternatively, you could sit down and work out the costs of making various type - eg the cost of style A in fabric B as opposed to style D in fabric E - and make up a litle price list to show interested girls and just add a little note saying that any alterations to what you have listed will alter the price.

        Sorry I can't be more help!
        Resha

        Jessica <wise_yoda_dude@...> wrote:
        Hi. I've been asked by various girls to make them bloomers. However,
        I am at a loss as to what to charge for them. I've seen them being sold
        for anywhere between $36 to $90, depending on style and fabric, though many were just a cotton muslin or print. That low price still seems a bit much though. Any input would be welcome. The girls who are requesting the bloomers are in high school, as am I, so that would also affect my pricing.
        Thanks!
        ~Jessica



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      • Judy Mitchell
        ... a common rule of thumb is to total up all the material costs (don t forget to add in a pack of needles and a spool or two of thread), and then double it.
        Message 3 of 7 , May 15, 2008
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          Jessica wrote:
          > Hi. I've been asked by various girls to make them bloomers. However,
          > I am at a loss as to what to charge for them. I've seen them being sold
          > for anywhere between $36 to $90, depending on style and fabric, though
          > many were just a cotton muslin or print. That low price still seems a
          > bit much though. Any input would be welcome. The girls who are
          > requesting the bloomers are in high school, as am I, so that would also
          > affect my pricing.

          a common rule of thumb is to total up all the material costs (don't
          forget to add in a pack of needles and a spool or two of thread), and
          then double it. Look at the new total and then you can fudge depending
          on the amount of work you know it will take and raise it (just because
          it only costs me $6 in supplies, doesn't mean I'm going to make a shirt
          for $12), or lower it for their budget. But try not to cut down so much
          that you feel abused for working so cheaply!

          Usually there is no way you're going to get a truly appropriate hourly
          wage for the amount of time you put into it - very few people do.

          good luck!

          -Judy
        • Sarah
          Hi Jessica, I run the clock when I m sewing for a client, and charge the same hourly rate to everyone, plus materials. I usually do materials at cost, but then
          Message 4 of 7 , May 16, 2008
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            Hi Jessica,
            I run the clock when I'm sewing for a client, and charge the same
            hourly rate to everyone, plus materials. I usually do materials at
            cost, but then I'm trying to make sure I charge adequately for my time.
            If the bloomers people are already buying are being made overseas
            where labor is very cheap, you may not be able to beat the price. I
            don't consider myself in competition with department stores. My
            customers come to me because they want something they can't get in a
            store, whether it's fit, fabric, style, or simply alterations. So if
            the bloomers already available are all one kind, and folks want
            something a bit different, then you have your niche. You can customize
            the fabric, the fit, the trim, etc. in a way that ready-to-wear can't.
            all the best,
            S

            --- In F-Costume@yahoogroups.com, "Jessica" <wise_yoda_dude@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hi. I've been asked by various girls to make them bloomers. However,
            > I am at a loss as to what to charge for them. I've seen them being sold
            > for anywhere between $36 to $90, depending on style and fabric, though
            > many were just a cotton muslin or print. That low price still seems a
            > bit much though. Any input would be welcome. The girls who are
            > requesting the bloomers are in high school, as am I, so that would also
            > affect my pricing.
            > Thanks!
            > ~Jessica
            >
          • Ann Garner
            ... Someone that does sewing as a business told that she has a number of electric clocks with hands that she uses for timers. She keeps them in the box with
            Message 5 of 7 , May 16, 2008
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              At 07:56 AM 5/16/2008, you wrote:
              >Hi Jessica,
              >I run the clock when I'm sewing for a client, and charge the same
              >hourly rate to everyone, plus materials.

              Someone that does sewing as a business told that she has a number of
              electric clocks with hands that she uses for timers. She keeps them
              in the box with the project. They are originally set for 12:00. She
              will plug in the clock when she is working on the project, unplug it
              when she stops. The clock stays with the project until it's
              finished. She can write down the time used straight from the
              clock. If she had more than 12 hours run on the clock, she used
              masking tape on the clock to write a reminder.

              Ann in Arkansas
            • jehanni2
              ... a common rule of thumb is to total up all the material costs (don t forget to add in a pack of needles and a spool or two of thread), and then
              Message 6 of 7 , May 16, 2008
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                --- In F-Costume@yahoogroups.com, Judy Mitchell <judymitch@...> wrote:

                <snip> a common rule of thumb is to total up all the material costs
                (don't forget to add in a pack of needles and a spool or two of
                thread), and then double it. <snip>

                The common rule of thumb I've heard is multiply by 7. Yes, that means
                if your materials cost $10, charge $70. Partly it's a difference
                between making for a hobby, and making for a business, as well. If you
                expect to earn your living selling sewing, you have different
                considerations than if you are doing it for fun, or a little extra cash
                for movie tickets. You have different considerations if you're just
                starting than if you're an established busienss, too.

                --And what this tells you is that there's a lot of variation in rules
                of thumb, and in what some people are willing to charge, and some
                people are willing to pay. You can consider factors like these:

                - How unique is what I'm making?
                - How badly does my potential client want it?
                - How tedious is it to make?
                - How unhappy will I be if I don't make it?
                - How unhappy will the client be if I don't make it for him/her?
                - How much follow-on work will I get from this project or client?
                - How much will I learn from doing the project?
              • Cat Devereaux
                In costuming, just multiplying material costumes can lead to very weird pricing. Take the original question... bloomers. If you make them out of cotton
                Message 7 of 7 , May 16, 2008
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                  In costuming, just multiplying material costumes can lead to very weird
                  pricing. Take the original question... bloomers. If you make them
                  out of cotton muslin vs. silk satin... do you really charge that much
                  more for the silk satin? (Yes, the silk takes a bit more work, but if
                  all else is even...???) Think about if you're using high end lace, vs
                  eyelet? Silk ribbon vs. rayon. Does the customer expect the same level
                  of quality???? Personally, then I'd say you labor is the same.

                  I know some folks that hate that method because someone argues can't you
                  use cheaper ribbon/fabric/trim, add two less flowers to the
                  decoration??? Can spend more time nicol and dimeing you to death time
                  wise, and sometimes the cheaper fabric is harder to sew in. Then beware
                  the customer wanting to bring in their own materials just to bring the
                  cost down... you might have to fight the fabric even more, add flat
                  lining, or just have the wrong material to work.

                  Gee, can you tell I don't like straight multiples??? On the other hand
                  there's a whole set of catches on flat pricing vs. straight hourly...
                  and that's going to depend a lot on you and your customer.

                  If you know exactly what they want in advance and there's patterns...
                  you're probably going to have to estimate how much you feel you should
                  be able to make it in. (You're going to be absorbing your mistake
                  time.) Since you're starting out, you are sewing slower now than you
                  will if you do it a lot... and yup, being younger, they're going to
                  expect you to charge less.... so you're going to have to make a lot of
                  guesses when you start and hope you don't undercut yourself too much as
                  you "earn" a rep. You will make some mistakes when you start on
                  pricing, but starting on small things, like the bloomers are better than
                  committing to a huge project and make mistakes there.

                  Doing sewing like the standard wedding dress seamstress vs costuming is
                  where you get into much weirder situations. You are going to have to
                  modify patterns... spend more time hunting down sources... materials...
                  techniques, etc. Unless you have a track record and are full "pro" at
                  this (whatever the heck the this defines at) you're going to loose
                  money is the research and pattern modification area... UNLESS you're
                  talked it out in advance and they know they're paying for the whole
                  package. Now, you may chose to loose money in that area if you're
                  going to make a specialty of it as you build a new rep... but build in
                  that to your estimates... and don't loose you shirt... or fall below
                  material costs.

                  You'll notice that folks have a tendency to go towards specialties -- a
                  certain historical time, a certain movie, or type of movie costume
                  etc. That makes financial success... though on movie costumes, that's
                  a moving target, depending on what is popular. Folks do super hero who
                  may also have stuff for casting or machining the props, some specialize
                  in corsets and have every bone and busk imaginable. They can charge
                  less because they may buy what they need in bulk... on the material
                  side... but may charge more for their time because you can buy from
                  them with more security knowing that they will get it right.

                  Another factor... especially in costume and historical is quality. I
                  started out theatrical costume and doing cheezy movie stuff where price
                  was everything, and there was never any time.

                  Tell me how far away the costume will be scene from, what angle it will
                  be shot at, and how long it's got to stay on the body... and you'd be
                  surprised how fast I could get something together. Used lots of damaged
                  fabrics. Fitting... I could pin baste an outfit to last a show. Or
                  repair something in less than a minute with the wide variety of safety
                  pins that never left my pocket. Extra might just be fitted with pins
                  and never finished because they were throw away shots and were bodies
                  just grabbed before shooting starts... but I digresses... except to
                  say under the needs and quality of a project.

                  When sewing for folks in our "Costuming" group, workmanship is often
                  valued, and they want things to last like clothing, and maybe be
                  washable. Detailing is way beyond good finished seams and sturdy detail.

                  Think about fittings. How many will be needed? How long are these
                  going to be, calc that into your costs. It can be a major part if
                  you're dealing w/ a fitted costume.

                  If something has to fit perfectly smooth over a corset... You've got to
                  know that corset is perfect, have the other underpinnings and shoes to
                  be able to really do fitting/s on the outer garment.

                  Confused and discouraged yet??? Don't be.

                  Just know what you're doing, spell it out to the client... make up some
                  kind of contact, even something very simple for friends (else
                  disagreements can make ex friends). Spell out when payment is expected
                  - part in advance, rest when finished. Specify fittings that will be
                  done. If it's just off measurements -- what if what they send you are
                  wrong? (Or they take up body building - don't laugh, had a lead gal do
                  that, and she had 3x of a set of costumes.) If doing recreations,
                  specify how close... not just you're going for "look" or "almost exact",
                  if any prop (including belt) is included, how design/beading will be
                  done (or not), etc.

                  Knowledge between the sewer and the customer makes for both folks being
                  happy.

                  You may loose some customers because they want to play it loose and fast
                  and expect an exact for $90... even though you can't get a decent movie
                  bag-costume for that any more... stand by your guns... at whatever level
                  you're sewing.

                  Exception... when you're playing the "experience" game. (It's something
                  the pros don't talk about but almost always went through and swore
                  "never again!") You "volunteer" to work community theater, student
                  movies, or B- indi movies. On these... realize you're loosing your
                  shirt on everything. Even if you get your base materials re-enbursed...
                  you won't get thread/needles/interfacing/machine
                  ware/millage/research... or your time. They're a time suck... and don't
                  expect to see any money you're promised afterwards. You'll get what's
                  set in up front.

                  Here too you need to lay down the law. Being realistic on the expected
                  product is good for everyone.

                  Now these things can be valuable for "learning the ropes" and maybe
                  "building a portfolio" or "networking"... especially when you're high
                  school/college/just starting out. However, keep in mind one or two is
                  good... but don't get trapped into it as a standard or you'll be working
                  for less than $2 an hour... and may end up hating costuming. There's a
                  point where you cut the string or lay down the law... but gee... you
                  do learn a lot that you couldn't pay for any other way.... and you'll
                  have a great base for knowing your tolerance in pricing. You'll sew
                  faster, know more. (and be able to cobble a costume together with
                  nothing except a few safety pins and what the folks around you are
                  wearing... seriously.)

                  So... how you're pricing will be an evolution... but it evolves with
                  your skill set... and your tastes and desires on how you want to do it
                  and what you want to work on.

                  However, never let anyone put you "down" on what you're doing because
                  it's "just sewing", ie just women's work... and so much more
                  undervalued. A full pro costumers has as much invested in tools and 3
                  times the education of any plumber, at a minimum. If you're working for
                  free or cheap... that's your apprenticeship time... even if you're
                  self-teaching. Budget the learning into your overall budget....
                  sometimes learning can be a lot... but some jobs are just rote.

                  YOU pick the total VALUE you will work for. The customer choses to pay
                  or not. Just weight it all together and don't undervalue yourself.

                  -Cat-
                  (oops, I need to put my soap box away)

                  -Cat-
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